12mo, pp. [xii], 321, [1 blank, and bound without the final blank leaf]; woodcut printer’s device on title, a couple of leaves lightly browned or spotted, but a very good copy, in contemporary speckled calf, panelled spine gilt, red morocco lettering piece; headcaps defective, corners a little worn; early ownership inscriptions on the title.
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Du Gouvernement Civil, où l’on traitte de l’origine, des fondemens, de la nature, du pouvoir, & des fins des sociétez politiques. Traduit de l’Anglois.
First edition in French of Locke’s Essay concerning the true original extent and end of civil government, one of the most famous and influential works in the history of liberalism, which had originally appeared the previous year as the second of the Two Treatises of Government (1690). The anonymous translator is generally thought to be David Mazel, a ‘Huguenot pastor living in Holland’ (Yolton); ‘it is surprising to note that all translations of this work up to 1800 were only of the second treatise’ (id.). It was to a great extent thanks to his translation that Locke achieved a wide readership on the Continent.
‘Mazel’s translation provided the Francophone readership with an anti-absolutist critique of the French regime, and ... emanated from the circle of Locke’s closest friends. It was through the intermediary of a handful of Francophone Protestants that the Continental audience became aware of Locke’s arguments and that he became known, not only as a theoretical philosopher, but also as a political theorist – as the author of, not the Two treatises, but the Du gouvernement’ (S.-J. Savonius, ‘Locke in French: The Du Gouvernement Civil of 1691 and its readers’. The Historical Journal 47:1, March 2004, p. 47).
Attig 166; Christophersen, p. 101; Yolton 46.
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